I have a question for everyone, do watches still manage to surprise you? Are you surprised by certain design choices, dial layouts, case shape/size, material used, overall quality etc….. There are a ton of re-hashed designs that we see over and over again, so of course in those instances the only surprise to me is that someone thought that we needed yet another re-hash design.
I personally don’t have a problem with homages because let’s face it, it gives an affordable option to buyers who have a limited budget. I do like original, unique designs, but these often prove to be a risky move for companies because there is a limited market for these type of watches. Sometimes a company can merge familiar design elements with their own unique design elements which can create something worth looking at and experiencing.
Speaking of elements, today we will be looking at the Formex Element watch. The stainless steel case immediately received first notice. Formex patented suspension case is always something unique to see and hold. I really like the look and feel of the 46mm x 14.5 case when it’s strapped to my wrist. It feels substantial and quite solid.
Most of the Element’s case has a brushed finish with small pops of high polished accents that are found on the lugs, crown, button pushers and case suspension posts and screwheads. The combination of finishes creates a very completed look to the case and allows the right amount of light to catch those high polished accents.
Another detail that is carried throughout this watch that also adds to the complete/finished appearance of the Element is the brush lines. The brush lines look amazing and allows two worlds to merge as one on the Element. I like that this watch can easily transition from the office/dress attire to the weekend jeans and t-shirt attire, and looks great both ways.
But getting back to the brushed finish, it can be found on the case itself, the fixed zirconium oxide ceramic and on the dial itself. This consistent detail that is carried out throughout the watch is a testament to Formex dedication to delivering a quality, well finished piece. I really like how the bezel looks like it was freshly cut with the brushed look on top and the polished look around the outer edges. This is another detail that Formex planned out to balance the Element in that dress watch/tool watch harmony that really works well together. While I am speaking of harmony, the Element’s patented suspension is supported by pentagon head screws. The pentagon shape can also be found on the crown. I love to see carryover of details throughout a watch’s design.
The crown is a push/pull style crown which functions well and functions as it should. This is my main focus of a suggestion to make the Element even better. A screw down crown would be my recommendation to improve upon an already well designed watch. This detail would be especially important if you are using the Element more on the adventure side of things as I have during the review process. A screw down crown was my only area of concern during my snow filled adventure. Definitely not a deal breaker but it would definitely be an awesome added detail.
The dial has some nice carry over of details that can also be found on the case itself. If you hold the Element to certain angles you can see brush marks on the dial that match the fixed bezel and the brushed stainless steel on the case, all of which looks pretty fantastic. Formex even took things a step further with the hands of the Element. If you look at the macro picture below you can see that the hands are a nice combination of polished and brushed finishes. I have personally never seen hands with this combination and the Elements hands look absolutely stunning.
I want you to also take notice of the border around the date window, again carryover of detail. Look how nice the brushed finish looks as it borders the date window. Formex really dedicated themselves in some serious thought and planning in the design process of the Element, and executed their plan with complete dedication throughout this watch.
Exploring the dial of the Element allows you to take notice of the depth that has been created by all of the different textures, materials and overall layout. The sunken subdials with their guilloche style background are quite balanced in both size and placement on the dial itself. The balance is maintained through the fact that all of the applied markers are present on the dial. Once again Formex attention to detail shines through on the applied markers, because we find that lovely combination of brushed and polished finishes.
The Element showing off it’s super luminova charm.
Ticking away inside the Element is the tried and tested ETA Valjoux 7750 movement that allows the fluidity of the hands movement. The chronograph flyback action is very crisp and returns to start in perfect alignment. The button pushers also operate smooth and functions without fail.
I am not normally drawn to chronograph watches, but the Formex Element made me seriously look at this watch and more importantly made me appreciate this chronograph. The case is a real work of art which is comprised of 38 individual pieces. The hand finished components of this case is what makes it truly come alive with the combination of polished, brushed and blasted. Formex did not cut a single corner in the design and construction of the Element. I only found one area for improvement that I mentioned above.
If you click the above images you can see the rugged yet incredibly light-weight folding clasp which is made of carbon fiber composite with a stainless-steel cover. The clasp has an easy to use and easy to find a perfect fit thanks to the patented fine-adjustment. In my cold weather adventure I needed a tighter fit and was able to adjust it easily to find that perfect fit. What I found pretty cool was when I returned in doors and sat by the fire to warm up, I was once again able to adjust the fit to compensate for the warm swelling of my wrist. The leather strap itself is soft and very pliable.
Formex has designed a very well rounded and well done watch. A watch that I wouldn’t think twice about recommending to someone. The suspension case allows for the watch to conform to your daily adventure for optimal comfort and for optimal protection as well. There are so many little details that I found myself gushing over both personally as a watch nut enthusiast and professionally as a watch reviewer/blogger. The lugs alone are a true work of art and they will stay scratch free with strap removal because of the quick release strap bars/pins.
The dial is very legible and is a work of art just as the case is. The little accents of red found throughout this dial just add to the real depth of the dial. The white printed second markers on the rehaut on the Element gives an ideal border to the dial. The greyed flat sapphire crystal that is found on the exhibition case back gives just enough view of the legendary ETA movement. The Element handled my adventures without fail. I can say with confidence that it will handle your adventures as well.
Apart from creating and manufacturing an amazing watch, it was Formex’s goal to offer it at an unprecedented value for money (hence their tagline “the most affordable high-end watch in the world”). Formex achieved this by a decision they made about a year ago to focus exclusively on a direct-to-consumer distribution. Because Formex is able to sell directly to the customer, they are able to cut out any retailer margins and offer their watches at an affordable price compared to that of a retailer’s price. I know a lot of you like to try on a watch before you buy it. Formex helped solve that issue by developing their own app that allows you try on their watches virtually on your wrist.
More about the Formex TryOn App here
From Formex: “Deciding for an online only distribution channel, we also tried to eliminate all the drawbacks of online shopping and price all our watches INCLUDING shipping, taxes & duties, 30-day free returns and a 3 year warranty. With that, you’ll end up paying exactly what you see on our website and won’t receive a unpleasant bill from customs. Selling direct only also allowed us to be in direct contact with our customer and get direct feedback on product quality and durability – plus our customers really appreciate it to talk directly to the manufacturer in all stages of buying and owning a Formex watch.”
I want to personally thank you for reading and as always your questions and comments are welcome below.
I would also like to personally thank Formex as well.
3/13/18 UPDATED PHOTO SHOOT, THE ELEMENT TURNED LOOSE IN THE URBAN JUNGLE.
ETA Valjoux 7750 (13 1/4”) Automatic, Chronograph with weekday and date display. 42 hour power reserve
Specials: Patented case suspension
Waterproofness: 10ATM (100 m)
Case: Stainless Steel 316L
Container: Titanium Grade 2
Bezel: Zirconium Oxide Ceramic
Glass: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflection treatment
Strap: Black Italian calf leather with embossed croco pattern and black stitching
Clasp: Folding clasp with carbon fibre composite frame with fine adjustment function and stainless steel 316L clasp
Black satin-finished base with machined indexes, 60 second scale on the flange and super luminova on hands and indexes
Price: $1490 USD